Introducing Betty Crocker was not a piece of cake for advertisers.
However, the secret to its success lies behind these three words:
“Add an Egg.”
That simple line was responsible for the brand’s wild popularity.
I’m not exaggerating. It really was the case. But wait until you discover the inspiration.
How it Started
General Mills first launched Betty Crocker as an all-in-one cake mix in the 1950s. The ingredients were powdered — even the milk and eggs (yum).
All you had to do was add water and bake.
The foolproof recipe saved homemakers time and energy. You couldn’t go wrong with this one. It was ‘mouthwatering convenience’ in a box.
But sales failed to rise.
The problem? Nobody was buying this amazing new product.
How could that be? It was convenient. It was fast. It gave women more time to spend with their families. How could people not want this magical cake mix?
Answer: They felt guilty.
The cakes tested exceptionally well. People loved the taste. However, because of the rich quality, families and guests were led to believe the housewives had spent all day baking. But they hadn’t. Homemakers refused to take credit for something that required very little effort. In turn, they stopped buying the mix. Psychologists concluded this was the reason for poor sales.
Guilt was the cause and inspiration
A new idea was hatched
What was General Mills to do? Run commercials about how Betty Crocker improved life by giving mothers more time with family? Or show the other joyous benefits that resulted in using such a novel product?
Instead, General Mills decided to make the recipe less convenient. That’s right — the cake mix now required more effort: you had to add an egg.
Did the product change? No.
Did it taste different? No.
The only thing that changed was the perception of effort.
Now Betty Crocker was fulfilling. Adding an egg made the women feel as if they were putting in extra effort to offer homemade goodness. The egg gave them a sense of creation and ownership. It was their cake. Not Betty Crocker’s.
The egg is also a feminine archetype — eggs give birth to all of creation (and deliciously moist cakes). Eggs are one of life’s necessities. We can’t exist without the egg.
Without the egg, there’s no bun in the oven. Without eggs — there’s no birthday cake!
A slight tweak in wording made cake mix sales rise like the summer sun. And that, my friends, is the story of how three little words made Betty Crocker famous.
(Information referenced from Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results; 2013 Drew Boyd)